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Dog DNA Tests in NZ: What You Need To Know


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With loads of cute mixed breed dogs popping up all over social media, we’re seeing that ‘dog DNA test NZ’ is a commonly searched term. Kiwi pet parents are looking to find out their canine friends’ origins via dog genetic testing to see whether they’re secret purebred dogs or far-fetched crosses.

Pug cross Great Dane, anyone?

We wanted to find out all the important DNA test info: how accurate they are, how they work, where you can get them done and, of course, how much they cost.

So, avid dog lovers, read on to find out more about conducting a dog DNA test in NZ.

mixed breed brown and white dog doing mouth swab for dog dna test nz

Dog DNA test NZ: The what, how, and where

What is a dog DNA test anyway?

Dog DNA tests are designed to determine three things about our canine companions.


Dog genetic testing can give you some insights into which breeds (and in what amounts) make up a given dog’s DNA. For a long time, only purebred dog owners with a registered and documented pedigree had the luxury of knowing exactly how their dog was bred.

But dog DNA tests in NZ now allow any dog to have their breed mixture assessed. So if you have a rescue dog, don’t know anything about your dog’s origins, or want to confirm your suspicions as to their genetic makeup, you can now get confirmation on their breeding. Sort of, anyway.

Health recommendations

Dog genetic testing can be used to assess great health and lifestyle recommendations for dogs, based on their breed make-up. Given that the Basset Hound breed has a tendency to overeat, for example, you can use test results to regulate your pup’s diet and exercise accordingly.

Disease prevention in breeding

Unlike in-market dog DNA tests in NZ that anyone can buy, vets and breeders use dog DNA tests designed to check for specific hereditary diseases. They already know which diseases are common in certain breeds. They can check if a dog is a carrier and help to treat it or use that information to avoid breeding it and passing on those genes to a new generation of puppies.

As you’ll see in this video, Dr Cath Watson highlights that from a professional perspective, this might be the main reason for doing genetic testing in dogs:

Do dog DNA tests actually work?

While there’s been a huge increase in demand for dog DNA tests in NZ, it’s still a fairly new concept. Because of this, the industry is largely unregulated.

Still, these tests offer the opportunity for some fascinating insights into your dog’s history, health, plus physical and personality traits. Plus, they allow you to satisfy your curiosity about how your pup came to be brindle or why they love water.

Much like human genetic DNA testing, you probably don’t want to live or die (so to speak) by the results of any dog genetic test. Some companies claim tests are 93% accurate, however, methodology between different tests isn’t always uniform, so this is yet to get the peer review stamp of approval.

That said, they’re still a great tool for finding out more about your bestie – and fun, too!

Can a dog DNA test tell a dog’s breed?

The different dog DNA tests in NZ vary in terms of what they offer. Some only tell you about your dog’s parentage or breed makeup. Others go as far as matching your dog to siblings and other canine relatives. Maybe they have a sibling nearby!

Several in-market tests also include varying degrees of genetic disease testing for cats and dogs.

Here’s some of the information you can glean from different DNA tests on the market:

  • Breed makeup/parentage
  • Canine “family finder”
  • Weight indicator
  • Health plan
  • Possible health risks, genetic disorders, or medical complications
  • Possible physical traits and body features

Of course, many dog parents want to do a test simply to find out what breed their dogs are, for the fun of it. It’s fun to see the results and match the different breeds to your dog’s physical characteristics and personality traits.

That aside, you might find even more value in dog DNA tests. For example, knowing your dog’s breed could help you explore what health conditions it might be more prone to.

If you know French Bulldogs are prone to dog skin conditions and your dog is half Frenchie, for instance, these tests can help you to proactively manage their lifestyle to avoid complications. The same goes for a range of conditions like hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and IVDD.

Couple lovingly pat their dog who they plan to do genetic testing for to find out breed makeup and health recommendations for.

What is the best way to DNA test a dog in NZ?

Dog DNA tests are usually done via a cheek swab or a sample of your dog’s hair. Most of them are available to buy online. All you have to do is take a swab of their saliva and send it back to the lab.

Here are some of the options available for dog DNA tests in NZ:

Ready, test, go!

Here’s a guide to how most of these tests work:

  1. Purchase the DNA kit online and register an account with the company’s online portal if needed
  2. Open your kit then carefully check the contents. It should include a swab, swab bag, prepaid return envelope, and instructions
  3. Read the instructions….carefully!
  4. Take a swab of saliva from your dog’s cheek. Here’s how to do it
  5. Let the swab dry, then seal it up and post it using the envelope provided
  6. You’ll be able to view your results online or possibly via email. The process usually takes a couple of weeks

Aside from satisfying your own curiosity, you can also share the report with your vet. Depending on which breeds (perhaps one of the top dog breeds in NZ?) make up your dog’s parentage, there might be valuable insights into their health, temperament, or personality traits.

Hopefully you’ve got yourself one (or more) of the kindest dog breeds in the mix.

A women plays in a grassy field with her pup after posting dog DNA test samples to an NZ lab

How much does it cost?

The cost of a dog DNA test in NZ can vary widely. Many are in the region of $200 but can be less or more. The more expensive tests usually offer larger DNA databases and a more in-depth analysis.

If there’s a big DNA database, there are more samples for your dog’s DNA to be cross-referenced against. That means you have a better chance of getting a fuller picture of your dog’s genetic makeup. Some tests only use a database of around 60 dog breeds, where others have hundreds.

So let’s say that your dog is genetically part Corgi and part Norwegian Lundehund. And for arguments sake, one DNA test might not have the Norwegian Lundehund in its database, whereas a more comprehensive one does. The test you use will dramatically influence the results you receive in a case like this.

Are dog DNA tests ever wrong?

Is it actually worth the spend to get your dog’s DNA tested? It depends on your viewpoint.

On the plus side, results go through a detailed analysis comparing your dog’s DNA against the database. As we mentioned above, this means companies with bigger breed databases are more likely to offer comprehensive results.

And the companies themselves are quite confident. Some claim they can detect a dog breed (say, Labrador) in your dog’s DNA even if your dog is as little as 5% that breed.

A grain of salt

But without regulations, there’s no way to confirm that your results are 100% accurate. We prefer to think of these tests as really useful guidelines rather than something completely set in stone. Of course, the choice is yours. It depends how invested you are in knowing your dog’s genetic makeup.

If you’re out to prove your dog is purebred (or finding out it’s breed ancestry) be aware many breeds are originally developed from other breeds. This puts a spanner in the notion of what makes a ‘purebred’ dog in the first place.

However, this brings up an interesting point worth knowing… Read about the difference between purebred and pedigree when it comes to dogs and cats.

mixed breed brown dog on dog bed. A dog DNA test could determine his breed.

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